Indiana Wesleyan University
Eddy Shigley, director of Kern Ministry Program
Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) has three distinct initiatives to promote conversations and curricular integration around faith, flourishing and economic wisdom.
First is a lecture series for faculty and staff. Last spring, Ron and Michael Blue meet with faculty and discussed the American economy and helped identify opportunities to engage our communities around faith-related economic work. Ron and Michael then spoke to an audience of about 200 business leaders, faculty, pastors and students about the relationship between biblical principles, personal and corporate financing and how we can be good stewards with the resources God has given us.
Ron defined biblical stewardship as “the use of God-given gifts and resources (time, talents, treasure, Truth, and relationships) for the accomplishment of God given goals and objectives.” Michael believes our culture encourages people to spend more than they make, be discontent and attaches self-worth to material possessions. The by-product of such selfishness is uncontrollable debt, marginal giving and negligible savings.
Michael challenged the audience to incorporate and teach the following principles:
- Spend less than you make.
- Avoid the use of debt – credit card debt is foolish.
- Maintain liquidity – financial margin and savings.
- Set long-term financial goals that honor God.
- Invest wisely in markets, products and people that produce large dividends, including eternal investments and dividends.
- Rejoice in generosity.
Our second program is a yearly faculty retreat that includes all faculty members of the School of Theology and Ministry as well as Wesley Seminary to discuss relevant themes. In August, we were thrilled to have about 40-45 faculty members attend as Jay Moon from Asbury Seminary presented on social entrepreneurship. Asbury’s social entrepreneurship programing includes a competition for students to think of ways they can help heal a broken world through business.
At The Asbury Project, ten students (selected from more than 30 applicants) presented business proposals to compete for $10,000 worth of prize money to launch mission-minded, for-profit businesses. The award money was distributed among five proposed businesses that address social issues including decreased farming revenue in Kentucky, poverty on Native American reservations and joblessness in Africa. The winning businesses serve as examples of how social entrepreneurship can lift people out of poverty and restore dignity to those caught in cyclical poverty.
In our third program, 20 students participate in a business internship each year. The purpose of these internships is to provide students with an overview of how the personal faith of business leaders informs and directs their particular business, and in turn adds to the economic flourishing of their community. The internship helps students develop a theology of work; such a theology is critical for those in the marketplace and pastors who help equip the saints for their work.
The desired outcomes is for the students to understanding the following:
- Develop a robust theology of work.
- Articulate a holistic biblical perspective on life, work and economics.
- Clearly identify the four central themes and twelve economic wisdom principles found in the Economic Wisdom Project’s “A Christian Vision for Flourishing Communities.”
- Analyze how business leaders integrate Christian leadership principles and ethical values in the marketplace.
- Develop a better understanding of how to effectively communicate and relate to business leaders in your particular church.
Some of the assignments include interviews with top-level executives on how they personally integrate faith in the workplace and how the business contributes to the economic flourishing of the community. The students shadow different people throughout the organization for a diverse exposure to types of work life and jobs. They sit in a variety of weekly executive-level meetings (staff meetings, budget meetings, team meetings, etc.) and debrief with their work supervisor. The students also spend time engaging in the work force – doing work, learning a skill, working on team projects, and learning communication skills. They also take weekly journal entries to reflect on what they are observing and learning on a variety of topics: their developing theology of work, the Wesleyan view of work, connecting your work to God’s work and leadership principles learned as well as ethics observed.
The last assignment is an integrative paper that asks them to how faith informs their own work and the larger economy they are a part of. Students are challenged to include how all of this comes together to make a better place, better work and better communities to the glory of God.
IWU is excited to partner with the Oikonomia Network to help our pastoral ministry students and faculty members see the true biblical value of work and how that ties into our the work of education in the classroom and our entire economic system.